Part-Day Absences, Skipped Classes Add Up — More Than It Seems, Stanford Researchers Say

By Carrie Spector - Rep: June 19, 2017

When it comes to studying absenteeism, almost all research has focused on students who miss a full day of school, not a class here and there. But skipped classes are responsible for a startling number of unexcused absences among middle- and high-school students, according to a recent study in the journal AERA Open.

“Part-day absenteeism in secondary school is extremely prevalent,” said Jing Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in economics of education at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and co-author of the report. “In fact, it explains more classes missed by students than full-day absenteeism does.”

Liu and Camille Whitney, MA/PhD ’15, tracked class-by-class attendance for more than 50,000 middle and high school students in an urban district over five years...

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U.S. Dept. of Education Launches New IDEA Website

June 19, 2017

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new website dedicated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos directed the Department to expedite the development of a new, updated and more robust site specific to the IDEA after the Department's Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 (Legacy) site experienced a prolonged outage in February due to technical issues.

"The launch of this new and improved site is a big win for children with disabilities, their families and the entire IDEA community," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "It is incumbent upon the government to provide accessible and accurate information to our citizens. That’s why one of my first actions as Secretary was to order the Department to fix and revitalize its woefully outdated IDEA site so that parents, educators and service providers could readily access the resources they need...

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Community Schools Can be Important Part of Improving Schools Under ESSA

June 19, 2017

Community schools can be a successful strategy for improving schools under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), according to a report released on June 5 by the National Education Policy Center and the Learning Policy Institute. The report, Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement, reveals that community schools, an increasingly popular school improvement strategy, are strongly supported by research evidence, as required by ESSA. The report was released at an event organized by the Coalition for Community Schools.

Community schools are schools that partner with community agencies and local government to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, and youth and community development. They provide expanded learning time and opportunities, engage families actively, and emphasize collaborative practices...

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Researcher: Standardized Tests Emphasize Skills That Teach Students to be “Critics” Rather than Lifelong Book Lovers

By Carrie Spector - Rep: June 5, 2017

As a public high school English teacher in Chicago years ago, Sarah Levine often felt ambivalent about the way she taught literature in the classroom.

She wanted her students to develop a lifelong love of reading – to feel moved by what they read, to explore fundamental questions about the human experience. But she found herself focusing more on the “clinical” or technical aspects of literature, like analyzing the effects of a particular motif or how a character is developed – skills that were likely to be tested on statewide exams at the end of the year.

“There’s room for that, but I’d go back and forth about how much time I should be spending on it,” said Levine, now an assistant professor of education at Stanford who researches the way high school students learn literary interpretation and writing, particularly in high-poverty urban areas...

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“You Have to Read Slowly In Order to be a Writer”

Good Books, Like Teachers, Acknowledge Children’s Lives, says Author Jacqueline Woodson

By Barbara Wilcox - Rep: June 5, 2017

In her National Book Award-winning verse autobiography, Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson writes that she was a slow reader, an exasperating student who sometimes missed the point of a teacher’s lesson. Yet by age 7, Woodson knew that she wanted to be a writer.

Those two facts seem contradictory but in fact anchor her writing practice, Woodson told educators, students and fans during the Cubberley Lecture on May 23 at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).

“You have to read slowly in order to be a writer,” she said. “You learn to listen to the silences and to the unsaid things.”...

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Guide Allows Educators to ‘Look Inside’ Top Research-Based Programs on Social and Emotional Learning

May 22, 2017

As interest in social and emotional learning (SEL) continues to grow, a new guide to 25 evidence-based programs offers detailed information about curricular content and programmatic features that practitioners can use to make informed choices about what to use to develop key skills and competencies such as self-control, attention and goal-setting; empathy; relationship building and conflict resolution; flexible mindsets; and character.

Aimed at elementary schools and out-of-school-time (OST) providers, the unique guide provides practitioners with the breadth and depth that enables them to compare what is taught, and how, across programs. Importantly, it also explains how the SEL programs can be adapted to out-of-school-time settings, such as afterschool and summer programs...

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California Students Did Better in Second Year

Analyzing the Standardized Tests Results

By Linda Strean, PPIC - Rep: May 8, 2017

California’s public school students did much better the second year they took new standardized tests, and the state is catching up to others that use the same Smarter Balanced tests. Public Policy of California researchers Iwunze Ugo and Laura Hill take a close look at the test results in a new report, Student Achievement and Growth on California’s K–12 Assessments, which Ugo presented at a Sacramento briefing in late April.

The researchers used two years of results to assess early implementation of two major statewide reforms – the Common Core curriculum and the new finance system that targets additional funding toward low-income students, English Learners, and foster youth. The PPIC report looks in depth at the test results for English Learners and economically disadvantaged students and finds that achievement gaps are not closing...

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Summer Kindergarten Transition Program Shows Lasting Positive Impact on Student Attendance, Literacy Skills

April 24, 2017

A new five-year retrospective evaluation study found that students who participated in an Early Kindergarten Transition (EKT) program showed higher attendance rates and higher early literacy skills when compared to their non-participating peers. What’s more, these trends continued over time, in kindergarten and later grades.

The targeted intervention, offered in 14 Title I elementary schools in Oregon’s Portland Public Schools system, is designed to help families with students who may struggle with the transition to kindergarten. These are primarily children who have not had a structured preschool experience, have a primary language other than English, or have had attendance or behavior issues while enrolled in Head Start...

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CDE Reports Record High School Graduation Rate, and Seventh Consecutive Year of an Increase

April 24, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reported on April 11 that California’s graduation rate increased for the seventh year in a row and is now at a record high for the class of 2016, with the biggest increases during that period taking place among English learners and African American and Latino students.

Among the cohort of students who started high school in 2012-13, 83.2 percent graduated with their class in 2016, up 0.9 percent from the year before. This increase means that 4,917 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before.

The state’s graduation rate has increased 8.5 percentage points since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate...

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Report Finds California Lags Behind Many States in Offering Full-Day Kindergarten

April 10, 2017


Compelling research shows that attending high-quality, full-day preschool and kindergarten is associated with improved outcomes for students. These outcomes include greater school readiness in a number of areas including language development, higher academic performance in math and reading, and less likelihood of being retained in later elementary grades.

This EdSource report looks at the status of recent efforts in California to provide more children with access to full-day preschool and kindergarten. The report documents the following:

--Even though full-day kindergarten is not mandatory in California, school districts have made significant progress during the past two decades in offering full-day classes. Yet today only 70.5 percent of schools serving kindergarten-age children are offering full-day programs. California lags behind many other states that offer full-day programs to a larger proportion of their kindergarten students...

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